Will the gears that have gone haywire ever return? Giants infielder Hayato Sakamoto finished the open game with an unbelievable batting average of 111 (36 hits, 4 hits) and 0 home runs.
After 22 consecutive at-bats without a hit, he managed to get his batting average into the 10% range with two hits in the last two games, but his batting average was still below the 214 and one homer record of Seiji Kobayashi, the catcher who has been lamented both at home and abroad for his “inability to hit” despite the difference in batting average. Many fans are calling for the use of Makoto Kadowaki (Soka University), the fourth overall pick in the draft, who finished fourth in the opening round with a 286 batting average, but manager Tatsunori Hara has made it clear that he will use Sakamoto in the opening game against Chunichi (Tokyo Dome on March 31) because of his performance.
The Miyazaki camp in February was the brainchild of former chief hitting coach Hiroshi Okubo, a.k.a. Dave, who introduced “early work,” an early-morning practice session starting at 7:00 a.m. The team’s young players, as well as veterans, were given the chance to practice early in the morning, and the team’s pitching staff was given the chance to practice early in the afternoon. All the fielders, including veterans and foreigners, as well as young players, participated in the early workout, and at the launch of the Okinawa camp, manager Hara said, “The MVP is Dave.
Manager Hara also showed up every day, so the players could not slack off, but after about 40 minutes they left the practice field and headed for San Marin Stadium, where the meal was served. Then Sakamoto was the first to disappear from the field, and the reporter in charge of the event laughed at him” (TV station official).
The veterans were left to their own devices, but while Sho Nakata and Yoshihiro Maru continued to practice with the youngsters, Sakamoto was said to have cut his practice short.
“At a general meeting on the day before the start of camp (January 31), Coach Okubo said, ‘I told the guys who didn’t want to do it to raise their hands, and no one did. Then do it. There was no way they could say, ‘I won’t do it. Sakamoto said in a TV interview, “I used to get up early every year, so there is no problem. One of the reasons why he has been in such bad shape so far in the open competition is probably because he lost his pace with his early work,” said a sports newspaper reporter.
Last year, Sakamoto was heavily criticized for an alleged abortion in a September article in the Weekly Bunshun (weekly newspaper), and he was forced to withdraw from the game three times, playing in only 83 games, the fewest since he became a regular player. Sakamoto’s public life and private life were both in disarray, and word spread to other teams that he was in a state of depression.
In January, Japan’s national team manager Hideki Kuriyama personally asked Sakamoto to participate in the WBC, and manager Tatsunori Hara encouraged him to do so, but Sakamoto declined.
Sakamoto declined. “I have a strong desire to play this season,” he said, “and I declined to participate because I was worried about my condition, but since last year I have been beaten up no matter what I do. He probably didn’t want to play in the national team’s high-profile games.
The WBC is short on shortstops, and aside from Sousuke Genda of the Seibu team, who played in the Tokyo Olympics, another player selected for the WBC is Takumu Nakano of the Hanshin team, who has been converted to second base this season.
Genda broke the little finger on his right hand in the first round against Korea. If Genda had left the tournament and missed the world championship because of this, he would have been slammed here as well, saying that it was because Sakamoto withdrew, but Genda forced his way into the tournament. But Genda was forced to compete, and Sakamoto did not catch fire because he also became the world’s No. 1. It was Genda’s fault,” said a reporter from an evening newspaper.
To begin with, Sakamoto’s exposure has decreased this season. Until last year, he was the captain of the team and represented the players to the press at camp-in, at the launch, and before the season opener. However, he has been replaced this season by Kazuma Okamoto, who has been less conspicuous.
The team is not pressuring him, but the reporters in charge of Sakamoto are voluntarily restricting him from publishing articles. We want to publish articles about Sakamoto, even favorable ones, because we know that not only fans but also “anti-fans” read them…” (Sports newspaper desk)
Will the day come when Sakamoto, who has fallen as far as he has fallen, will once again make headlines in the media for his baseball ability, for which the world’s number one WBC coach directly appealed to him to participate?